Can we tolerate intolerance?
At this moment, just days from Christmas, a whole lot of noise has been stirred up in American pop-culture, resulting from the “Duck Commander’s” words that are to be printed in the January issue of GQ Magazine. The Twitter-sphere, blogosphere and mainline newsosphere are all a buzz, which of course means I have something to say too 😉
Two blog articles have stuck out to me in the last 24 hours. One, a post from Brandon Ambrosino at Time.com and the other from Andrew Sullivan on his own site, dish.andrewsullivan.com. Interestingly, both men are openly gay. Thus, their views are particularly interesting.
Both writers essentially agree that Phil Robertson’s firing is unfounded. Sullivan rightly observes that A&E has fired the reality star for doing the very thing that has made the network a boatload of money, speaking his stereotypically southern, redneck mind. Ambrosino closes with a great question, “Why is our go-to political strategy for beating our opponents to silence them?” Amidst all the chatter I find myself continually landing upon the same reoccurring thought: can we tolerate intolerance?
The collective voices of progressive pop-culture tell us “fundamentalist Christians” that we must be more tolerant of the LGBT community and lifestyle. By tolerance I can only deduce that they mean accepting and in many cases celebrate too. At this moment—barring changes that will likely come in the future—the definition of tolerant (according to the New Oxford American Dictionary installed on my MacBook Air) is “showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”
As far as I can tell, myself and most of the Christian pastors and church goers that I know, have been (according to the above definition) doing their best to be tolerant of the Homosexual lifestyle, whether they want to be or not. We’ve tried to show a willingness to allow the existence of opinions and behavior that we—and we believe the Scriptures—do not agree with. However, it does not seem that groups like GLAAD and others within the LGBT community are willing to offer the same tolerance to fundamentalist Christians like Phil Robertson.
My answer to the question is “no.” I cannot tolerate the LGBT and progressive pop-culture’s intolerance of our opinions that they do not agree with. I wish that they were a little more tolerant, and something tells me that Sullivan and Ambrosino would probably agree.
Well said, Miles. Agreed. In order for tolerance to mean what many want it to mean, the word and concept itself must be redefined.
Agreed, we need to be tolerant and gracious in the true sense of the word. The problem is truth is no longer objective in our culture but subjective.
The “problem” with standing for the truth is that it will cost us something to do so. Tolerance, as it’s known now, is only tolerant when you agree with me and my views. I think social justice is somewhat the same, when it comes to what is considered just.
As Americans Christians, we expect what’s right and true to prevail. But I believe we’re in for a shock, a rude shock. I don’t see things moving in that direction but the opposite way.
The cost may get severe in the short run, but well worth it in the long (eternal) run.
Miles — thanks for that post. Regarding “tolerance” and the specific example of Phil Roberston I couldn’t agree more. I almost NEVER get involved in any of the hoopla over stuff like this, especially on public sites like FB and Twitter, specifically because I know how easy it is to take small bites of what I say and misunderstand them, thereby leading to a loss of opportunity to be voice in the lives of hundreds of online “friends”. In this case I just couldn’t help myself on a couple of occasions… not because of the topic of homosexuality, or supposed racism, or any other “issue” mentioned in the interview, but because of the wholesale molestation of what Phil actually said and the context in which he said it! For a guy like me who struggles with severe OCD in the areas of logic and communication I just felt like the entire universe had lost it’s mind!
For example, to take what he said about the black people that he grew up knowing and twist that into sound bites like “Phil Roberston denies pre-civil rights era racism existed!” just flips every switch I have. What outright dishonesty and/or idiocy!
To take what he said about male and female anatomy — as uncouth as he communicated it — and turn into into some kind of “hate speech” to censor is ludicrous! Just like the two authors you mentioned I have the sense to see that he was simply expressing his opinion with his typical redneck style and predilection for the blunt use of technically correct vocabulary. As Sullivan wrote, “What Phil Robertson has given A&E is a dose of redneck reality. Why on earth would they fire him for giving some more?” Ambrosino wrote, “Even though Phil used crass, juvenile language to articulate his point, what he was getting at was his belief that homosexual ‘desire’ is unnatural and inherently disordered. This opinion isn’t unique to Phil. It’s actually shared by a majority of his fans.” I also enjoyed the fact that he closed his piece with a quote from G.K. Chesterson that’s very much worth reading and considering.
So — while on the specific topic of homosexuality and evangelism and how we should live as Christ’s ambassadors on this earth I have strong opinions and thoughts that would severely differ from Phil’s style and personality — I join these two reasoned and intelligent authors (who have every reason to react emotionally and illogically to Phil) in crying fowl!